USDA Report: More Slaughter Plants Needed for Direct and Local Sales

Jul 20, 2012

The following is a repost from the American Sheep Industry Weekly.

Demand for locally sourced products in the United States has increased in recent years, but producers often claim that a lack of slaughter facilities is a key reason that it is not expanding more quickly, writes Chris Harris.

According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Economic Research Service, although the share of total U.S. agricultural products sold through local food markets is small - direct-to-consumer sales accounted for 0.4 percent of total agricultural sales in 2007 - it continues to develop.

According to the 2007 Census of Agriculture, direct-to-consumer marketing amounted to $1.2 billion in 2007, compared with $551 million in 1997, a growth of 118 percent, the report, Slaughter and Processing Options and Issues for Locally Sourced Meat by Rachel J. Johnson, Daniel L. Marti and Lauren Gwin said.

The 2007 numbers are the most recent available from the Census of Agriculture, as the 2012 census is currently being carried out.

The percentage of livestock operations selling product directly to consumers or retailers is much smaller than that for other agricultural products. In 2007, only 6.9 percent of livestock operations participated in direct sales, compared with 44.1 percent of all vegetable and melon farms.

The report said that limited slaughter and processing capacity is often cited, particularly by producers, as a key barrier to marketing their meat and poultry locally.

This report looks at the slaughter and processing capacity and options available to livestock producers selling into local markets. Read the report at ldpm-livestock,-dairy,-and-poultry-outlook/ldpm216-01.aspx.

By John M Harper
Author - County Director Mendocino & Lake/Livestock & Natural Resources Advisor